Wilma Cozart Fine, Classical Music Record Producer, Dies at 82
Wilma Cozart Fine, a record producer who, with her husband, C. Robert Fine, ran the classical division of Mercury Records in the 1950s and early ’60s, producing hundreds of recordings that are still prized by collectors for the depth and realism of their sound, died on Monday at her home in Harrison, N.Y. She was 82. Her death was announced by her son Thomas.
Mrs. Fine was one of the first women to excel at record production, a field that is still dominated by men（的確如此，女指揮家一個一個冒出頭來，但女性幕後製作人卻有如鳳毛麟角般罕見，比較為人所知的應該是曾經自創Opus 111古樂品牌的女製作人Yolanta Skura）. She brought sensitivity and taste to her work, which included notable recordings by the conductors Rafael Kubelik, Antal Dorati and John Barbirolli; the composer and conductor Howard Hanson; the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Detroit Symphony; the pianists Byron Janis, Gina Bachauer and Sviatoslav Richter; and the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich.
李希特1961夏天年終於在倫敦首次登台，便利用同一段時間在孔德拉辛（Kyril Kondrashin）指揮London Symphony Orchestra伴奏下灌錄了李斯特兩首鋼琴協奏曲，由Philips發行的錄音問世後一直是該曲目最受推崇的版本，堪稱「定盤」，幕後製作團隊便是Mercury的Fine夫婦，而李希特與羅斯托波維奇絕無僅有的貝多芬大提琴奏鳴曲，亦出自該團隊手筆。
With Mr. Fine, an ingenious recording engineer whom she married in 1957, she developed recording techniques that, even in their early monaural recordings, seemed to capture not only the performance but also a sense of the space in which it took place.
The Fines were among the first to make mass-market stereo recordings, and in the early 1960s they experimented with recording on 35-millimeter film instead of on magnetic recording tape. Among their productions were sonic spectaculars like a 1954 recording of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” by Dorati and the Minneapolis Symphony, with bells recorded at Yale University and a cannon recorded at West Point, and a 1958 remake, with different bells and cannon.
杜拉第的《1812序曲》錄音是Mercury公司的招牌作品，一共錄製過兩次，都是相同樂團（Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra），第一次錄音（TAS與企鵝三星帶花雙料推薦版本）是在1954年，仍然是單聲道時代，炮聲是在西點軍校錄下拿破崙時期製造的古炮射擊聲，鐘聲則錄自耶魯大學校園內的大鐘；第二次錄音是在1958年，這時已進入立體聲時代，炮聲改為使用1775年法國製造的大炮，鐘聲則改用紐約河畔教堂的大鐘鐘聲。
Mrs. Fine also had a brilliant marketing sense. One of the first things she did when she joined Mercury, in 1950, was persuade the label’s president, Irving Green, to sign the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, then floundering. Mercury’s first recording with that orchestra, overseen by the Fines, was Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” with Kubelik conducting, in April 1951. When the recording was released that fall, along with another recording of works by Bartok and Bloch, Howard Taubman wrote in The New York Times that “unless this recording has flattered the ensemble’s competence out of all recognition, one must welcome the Chicagoans back to the top rank of American orchestras.”
But it was another sentence in the review that caught the Fines’ attention: “Thanks to one of the finest technical jobs of recording made on this side of the Atlantic the orchestra’s tone is so lifelike that one feels one is listening to the living presence.” Thereafter, Mercury’s classical discs bore the legend “Living Presence,” and the slogan helped define the company’s goals and achievements.
Mrs. Fine was born in Aberdeen, Miss., on March 29, 1927, and grew up in Fort Worth. She studied music education and business administration at North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas) in Denton and found a job working as Dorati’s personal secretary when he was music director of the Dallas Symphony. When Dorati moved to the Minneapolis Symphony, Mrs. Fine followed, but she soon decided to move to New York, where, with a recommendation from Dorati, she was hired by Mercury.
Besides signing and recording American orchestras, Mrs. Fine and her crew made recordings in London, Vienna and Moscow. She retired in 1964 to rear her sons, who survive her. In addition to Thomas, of Brewster, N.Y., her sons are Matthew, of Montclair, N.J., and John, of Port Chester, N.Y. She is also survived by a brother, Eugene Cozart of Fort Worth; and four grandchildren. Mr. Fine died in 1982.
Mercury是第一家在莫斯科錄音的美國唱片公司，屬冷戰美蘇兩強對峙時期罕見的歷史記錄，由Byron Janis擔綱演出，伴奏樂團則是由孔德拉辛指揮Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra。
Mrs. Fine came out of retirement in 1989 to oversee the reissue of the Mercury Living Presence recordings on CD. She worked on the remastering project for a decade.
Wilma Cozart Fine親自參與CD版轉錄工作，進而帶動RCA Living Stereo跟進，Decca Legend、DG Original與EMI GROC等一連串復古風潮！